Boston’s Jaylen Brown has become the NBA’s leading midrange assassin

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Justin Quinn
·2 min read
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It’s a 3-point shooter’s world in the modern NBA, but don’t tell that to Boston Celtics rising star forward Jaylen Brown.

In a league that has become dominated by analytics-based approaches that play up the efficiency of shots at the rim and beyond the arc, defenses have warped to protect those areas with gusto. But in so doing, they have left a gap exploitable by players able to hit the midrange shot at elite levels, and this season the Georgia native has transformed himself into the league’s preeminent midrange assassin. Usually thought of as a “bad” shot, teams and players are increasingly becoming aware of the utility of having a specialist able to work in the seams of a defense, as Brown has been doing.

In a recent article by FiveThirtyEight’s Yaron Weitzman, the likely soon-to-be first-time All-Star’s proclivity in the league’s neglected offensive range was highlighted.

“This season, Brown has weaponized this approach,” noted Weitzman.

“Not only is he taking nearly twice as many midrange shots as he did last year, but, according to NBA.com’s tracking data, he has also drilled 56.8 percent of them, with the majority off the dribble. For context, Kevin Durant, one of the best midrange off-the-dribble shooters of all time, has never shot better than 55.1 percent on these sorts of looks over the course of a full season.”

The FivethirtyEight analyst believes this kind of assault from the midrange will help the Cal-Berkeley product make his first All-Star team this season — and also lands him squarely among the leaders of the Most Improved Player conversation.

While the midrange attempts driving Brown’s success has come at the expense of shots at the rim and from 3-point range, it’s also propelled his scoring to new career-highs, nearly doubling his career average before this season.

And while the Marietta native may well cool a little as the season progresses and more touches are needed for healthier teammates in Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum, Weitzmann makes the case the jump we are seeing is by and large legitimate, and mirroring the growth of superstars like Kawhi Leonard.

“And anyway, focusing on an upcoming regression would be missing the point,” claims Weitzmann, who situates Brown’s growth alongside his more complete package as a two-way player.

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List

Boston Celtics 2020-21 player grades so far this season

OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
Boston
-129-2.5O 224.5
Atlanta
+105+2.5U 224.5